Arkadelphia Plantation

by Sequoyah


Chapter Twelve

Jeff and Art had originally planned to stay the week after the Fourth, then go back to Atlanta. Both reluctantly admitted they really were enjoying being at Arkadelphia and postponed their departure. Davis was ecstatic. They even debated transferring, but Davis discouraged it. “You know Emory has recognition Audubon State doesn’t. You’ll need everything you can get going for you to get into medical school and a degree from Emory counts more than one from here. Maybe that is wrong, but that’s the way it is. Would love to have you two here, but you’ve got to look to your future.”

Summer passed quickly. School wouldn’t start back until after Labor Day, but Andy and Jamie started conditioning the week before, both for track. It was still very hot and humid, so all the conditioning was from 6:00 until 8:00 in the morning. A few years ago a football coach got fired for having boys run in the scorching sun. Several suffered heat exhaustion and one actually had a heat stroke. Fortunately, all recovered. The coach might have survived had he had a winning team several years running and had he admitted he had made a mistake in judgment, but neither was true. At the school board hearing he really cooked his goose when he said the victims were just wusses. The fact that all were his best prospects he had for the team went against his argument as did his arrogance. He was fired without debate.

Ethan and Scotty were still sleeping in separate rooms, but were making love two or three nights a week. Once or twice a week they seemed to end up somewhere on one of the plantations making love. One night as they were eating supper, Sally Ann said, “Okay, this has gone on long enough. Who do you think you are fooling? There is no reason you two can’t go to sleep in the same bed since you start out that way several nights a week.”

Jamie looked at them with a goofy grin on his face and said, “I agree.”

Ethan and Scotty turned bright red, but grinned and Ethan said, “So long as you say so, sister.”

“I say so, but Jamie, don’t you get any ideas!”

Thursday before Jeff and Art left for Emory, they, Ethan and Scotty, were mowing pastures. When they stopped for a break, Scotty asked if they could have a final talk before the two left for Emory. “Well, I hope it’s not our final talk,” Art chuckled, “but we can have a talk. I meant to ask earlier, but you two did get tested and get hep shots while you were still at the college where it was free, I hope.”

“We did and all is well,” Ethan said.

“Something changing in your relationship?” Jeff asked, with a raised eyebrow.

Scotty laughed. “Yeah, Sally Ann more or less told us to stop the nonsense and sleep in the bed we had been playing in. I guess that might lead to trying something new.”

“But we’re not sure.”

“I guess you mean ...”

“Yeah ... ah ... well ...” Ethan stammered.

“We’ll talk before we leave.”

“When are you going back?

“We’re leaving Monday. We have a week before we start back to classes, but we’ll need to do some work on our place. We lease it to summer school students and they sometimes leave it in a mess. Even if they don’t, we’ll need to lay in supplies, check our schedules and make any changes necessary and that sort of thing.”

“I’m surprised you stayed around all summer,” Ethan said.

“I am as well,” Jeff said. “I’ll go to my grave grateful to you, Ethan, for setting my dad straight. To be honest, our relationship is the best it has ever been. Mom always made sure I knew she loved me, even when I was forbidden to come home. Dad seldom hugged me and never once told me he loved me until this summer. Now? It’s very, very different. Nonetheless, I’m not sure but what he loves Art more than he loves me.”

“Doubt that, babe,” Art said. “Summer’s been good. Only bad patch was when my father found out Jeff and I were lovers. He carried on about it in the pulpit.” He laughed, “Davis was getting a haircut a few weeks ago when Reverend Archibald Willis came into the barber shop and started carrying on about Davis harboring queers. ‘I’m coming there with my deacons to rescue my boy from that den of deviates,’ he thundered in his best preacher voice. ‘You set foot on either Arkadelphia or Pleasant Grove and I’ll fill your self-righteous, bigoted fat ass full of bird shot. Talked to my lawyer already about your slander from the pulpit,’ Davis told him. Can’t you just see the Reverend running through a pecan grove trying to dodge bird shot?” We all laughed at the image of the obese—he truly was a fat ass—Reverend Willis running through a grove as Davis unloaded a shotgun at him.

At 5:30 the crew parked the tractors beside Ethan’s truck and Art suggested a swim before they headed home. As was everything at Pleasant Grove, its largest irrigation pond had been neglected. It was weed-choked, full of slime and silty when Art and Jeff started cleaning and enlarging it. As they did, they had discovered and dug out a spring which now fed it. It was now as nice as, and larger than, the spring-fed one on Arkadelphia.

The four frolicked in the water for half an hour, then lay on the blanket Ethan had taken from the truck. “So, you think you’re ready for the next step in your physical relationship?” Jeff asked.

“Well, not sure,” Scotty said. “I mean we have talked about it and since you two are leaving ...”

“Whoa! Hold it right there!” Art said. “The most important thing to remember is that until both of you are ready and want to take the next step, don’t take it. Again, it’s nothing you have to do. Just because you are gay and lovers, it doesn’t automatically follow that you engage in any or all the ways men make love. When and only when you both are ready do you take any step.”

“Right,” Jeff agreed. The four then talked about penetrating and being penetrated, mostly with Jeff and Art answering questions. Finally Jeff said, “Guys, far be it from me to tell you when you take the next step, but I sense from your questions, you are not ready yet. That’s okay. You do have resources: you have broadband internet and you can always call us if you have questions or concerns.”

Art added, “Since you have internet now, I’m sure you have checked out one or two porn sites. Just remember, porn may be fun, but it’s no more real than Snow White. There are good and informative sites. Many of the better story sites list resources that you can trust. I think that’s about all I can tell you.”

“Except, when the time comes, use plenty of lube,” Art laughed.

Ethan dropped Jeff and Art off at the plantation house and headed home. When he and Scotty walked in the back door, Sally Ann said, “Couple messages for you, Ethan, one for Scotty and one for both.” The message for both was an invitation from Rich and Doug to dinner before Art and Jeff went back to school and Doug went back to teach at Atlanta State the fall semester. Scotty and Ethan had messages from the college. It was about book lists for the classes they’d be taking. Textbooks were not cheap! The other message to Ethan was a notice of a conference for pecan growers in Macon the weekend following Labor Day. He’d ask Mr. Edwards about that tomorrow.

When Ethan called Rich’s place, Doug answered the phone and he told him he and Scotty were delighted to accept the dinner invitation. Doug said. “See you tomorrow. I think I’ll be mowing tomorrow. Jeff and Art are visiting an aunt of Art’s, the only member of his family who still speaks to him, but will be back before dinner.”

At dinner, Jamie said he had worked on fences all day. “I’m glad Randy agreed with the suggestion that we go with four strands of electric fence rather than barbed wire. That way we can use lighter posts—we’re using treated pine—which one person can handle. The wire is sure easier to string than barbed wire. After having to deal with the old barbed wire, I’d be happy if I never saw another inch of the stuff. I guess it takes longer to attach the insulators than stapling barbed wire, but everything else is faster and easier. Davis says it costs less as well. We will have to chase down trouble when a fence gets grounded and, therefore, is no longer charged. That shouldn’t happen often. Tomorrow I may join you guys mowing unless Dek would rather mow than help with the fence. Dek was in Glen Stockade today. Some problem with his wife and his son Ray. Not sure what’s going on there.”

The following evening, Andy, Jamie and Sally Ann were going to a back-to-school party in town. A group of parents had reserved a picnic shelter in the park and were cooking hamburgers and hot dogs for the junior and senior classes—and their dates. Sally Ann was only a rising freshman, but was technically Andy’s date, so she got to go. His ‘real’ date was Chaneeka Johnston. They had met early in the summer when her dad, who was a pharmacist, added a soda fountain at the drug store and had a grand opening for high school students. Her parents were very strict about her dating, but since they were among those hosting the event, she told Andy they would meet at the party. “That way I’ll avoid any hassle concerning my having a date.”

A few minutes after the three left, Art and Jeff came by to pick up Scotty and Ethan for the dinner at Doug and Rich’s. As they approached the house, Ethan said, “It’s been almost a month since I saw this place. It hadn’t been landscaped. It’s really a showplace now, Scotty.”

“It is, but when I was here last week, Rich asked me if I would ever live here.

“Maybe I’ll move in with you,” Ethan laughed.

“That’ll be the day. We both know you have a family you’re not going to turn loose until you have to. No, Ethan, you have at least four years before you’ll even think about not being dad to Jamie and Sally Ann—and I wouldn’t have it otherwise.”

            Ethan was silent. He had never given a thought to Jamie and Sally Ann leaving, starting families, not needing him. Was his family a problem he and Scotty needed to deal with? He hoped not. He loved Scotty, but he knew if he had to choose between his lover and his family, it would break his heart, but his family came first—always. He became very quiet as they reached Doug and Rich’s place.

Rich greeted the four at the door, hugging each in turn. “Welcome, come in. Doug will be with us in a minute. He managed to spill sauce on on his pants and had to re-dress.” When everyone was seated, Rich offered them drinks—beer, wine, soft drinks, ice tea—and said he wouldn’t tell if Ethan and Scotty drank something stronger than water. They both had a beer. When everyone had a drink, Rich passed around a tray of appetizers just as Doug appeared.

“Guess Rich told you I spilled sauce on my pants. Fortunately, I spilled little and none touched skin, so I wasn’t burned and we still have sauce.”

After they had talked a few minutes, Rich asked if they’d like to see the house since none of them had seen it since it was finished and furniture moved in.

“The kitchen is great,” Doug said. “It’s small, but well designed. I love it and since I do the cooking, that’s important. We eat at the counter when there’s just the two of us and lucked upon a table for when we have guests. Davis suggested we see if there was any usable furniture in Pleasant Grove and we found a dropleaf table in the hall. Leaves down it’s only a foot wide and fits nicely against the wall in the living room. Leaves up, it will seat six. I hoped to refinish it, but so far haven’t had time. Rich and Scotty are sitting on the two nicest of six chairs. All need refinishing and reuphostering, but will be very nice if that’s done.”

Davis had told Scotty to get good furniture for the bedroom and he had. He had money he hadn’t spent from what he got each month from his mother and stepfather, and had purchased a bed, dresser and chest made by Amish craftsmen. It went well with the subdued color of the walls, carpet and draperies. He had borrowed money from Arkadelphia to go ahead and furnish the living room as well.

They were very surprised when Rich went to the office door and put his index finger in a box by the door. As he inserted his finger, he said, “Richard Long requesting entry. Mary had a little lamb.” A small light on the box changed from red to green as there was the sound of something moving and the door opened. When they stepped into the office, it just looked like a nice executive’s office—the desk and credenza from the general’s office looked very nice and not out of place. Scotty had feared they would, since the room was small and they were not. Francis had built shelves and cabinets which covered the entire wall opposite the desk. “Scotty, when I leave, some of the security for this room will go. The fingerprint and voice lock on the door, for example. You will, nonetheless, still have bulletproof glass in the windows, the room will be shielded from all electromagnetic waves, soundproof, etc. You’ll still have a way-above-average security system for the house and surrounding area.”

“With this setup, what you’re working on must be a big deal,” Jeff said.

“It is, a very big deal.”

Dinner was lovely. Scotty convinced Ethan to have wine with his dinner and he actually liked it. He and Scotty had a slight buzz on when they left for home at 11:15. Ethan insisted on being home when Jamie and Sally Ann returned. When he reminded Art that he needed to go, Art said, “You know, Ethan, Sally Ann and Jamie have a better daddy than I have ever had.” The others agreed that Ethan was an excellent dad to his brother and sister, embarassing the young man.

After Ethan had seen Jamie and Sally Ann safely home and heard how their evening had gone, they all went to bed. After he and Scotty had made love, Scotty snuggled against Ethan, and the two were soon asleep.

Scotty was up at eight—late for him since he had started work at Arkadelphia—and had showered before Ethan was awake. “Morning, lover,” he said as he kissed Ethan.

“Why are you out of bed, Scotty?” a sleepy Ethan asked.

“I am going into Audubon to church which starts at 10:30. Want to go with me?”

“Probably not. Guess no-one there knows you have sex with a man.”

“Well, it’s not something I broadcast, not because I’m ashamed, but because it’s nobody’s business. The priests know I’m gay. Ralph, Aunt Lily’s husband, made sure of that. He’s a hard-ass fundamentalist and thought he’d rub my being gay in my face. So I know the priests know, but they have never said anything about it.”

“Must be a strange church,” Ethan responded. “Catholic?”

“Not Roman Catholic, but I am a catholic, an Episcopalian. Come on, get your lazy ass out of bed and go with me.”

Ethan thought about it for a minute and finally threw back the cover and said, “Why the hell not. I’ve got to see this place that didn’t throw your gay ass out.”

He was surprised when he heard the shower in the bathroom. Jamie could sleep twenty-four hours given half a chance and here he was in the shower at 8:00 on Sunday morning. A few minutes later, the shower stopped and Jamie emerged from the bathroom wearing nothing. “What are you doing up?” Ethan asked him in an incredulous voice.

“Well, I thought I might go to church today. Just woke up and thought it was a good idea. What are you doing up? I thought you’d be in bed until you couldn’t get it up again, fucking like bunnies,” Jamie laughed.

“Well, Scotty kinda asked me to go to church with him, where he spends a perfectly good Sunday morning when he could be sleeping in.”

“Actually, I kinda got asked too. I also need the truck to drive into Braggton. After church I’m having dinner with the Heffners. By the way, Keith, the guy from next door asked Sally Ann to go with him. She told him she’d have to call since she’d have to ask you.”

“I guess she forgot since she didn’t ask. You think he’s okay?”

“I think so, but you never know. So far as I know they’re going where Kathryn and I are going, if not, maybe you’d better check him out first. You can’t trust these guys around here too much.” Ethan just looked at Jamie and laughed. Jamie blushed and then started laughing with him.

Jamie joined them as the three headed downstairs for breakfast. When they got downstairs, Sally Ann had made coffee and was sitting at the table eating a toasted English muffin with butter and jam. “You three look all handsome early this Sunday morning. What’s up?”

“We’re all going to church,” Jamie answered. “I thought you were as well.”

“I forgot to ask Ethan, so I figured I wouldn’t have time to get ready since I wasn’t going to wake him,” Sally Ann replied.

“If you can still go, go,” Ethan said. Breakfast forgotten, Sally Ann shot out of the room.

“So you and Sally Ann are having Sunday dinner elsewhere,” Ethan said to Jamie. Jamie nodded. “Scotty, this church is in Audubon, right? I think that’s what Davis said.” Scotty nodded. “Know a really nice place to eat there?”

“Well, the nicest Audubon has is Lyle Plantation, actually an ninteenth century plantation house converted into a restaruant.” Ethan called and made reservations for a quarter to one.

Jamie and Sally Ann left at 9:00. Ethan and Jamie had time for another cup of coffee and to exchange some soft kisses before it was time for them to leave as well. They spent a lot of time on a tractor or in a truck so Scotty’s Triumph was really special. The car was a black 1972 Triumph Spitfire 1500 Cabriolet. His stepfather had had it restored to showroom condition and practically worshipped it. He never allowed Scotty to even ride in the car, much less drive it, which had been Scotty’s dream. After his stepfather had beaten him unconscious, Scotty was determined to get the car and when faced with loss of his high paying job and probable jail time, his stepfather pitched a fit, then offered Scotty a new sports car, but Scotty didn’t budge. “I guess it was mean and petty of me—I know it was—but he had always laughed when I asked to ride in the car and said, ‘You little shit, you better not even get close to my baby, much less touch her.’ When I got the car I had to tell him he was wrong. ‘I guess you never really looked at your baby. He isn’t a she, he’s a he and gay. I thought the bastard would stroke out!” For the first time, Ethan realized how deep Scotty’s hurt and anger ran.

They had plenty of time to drive to Audubon, but Scotty let the horses run and they arrived well before service time. Scotty parked the car, leaned over the console—not an easy thing to do in the two-seater—and kissed Ethan. Ethan started to panic, then decided, ‘what the hell’ and kissed him back. They got out of the car and walked to the church slowly.

An elderly woman spoke to them as they approached the church steps. She was walking with a cane and before she took the next step, Scotty extended his arm to her and Ethan stepped to her opposite side and extended his as well. “My, such southern gentlemen,” she said as she handed her cane to Scotty and took their arms. I’m Matilda Franklin, but everyone calls me Miss Mattie. Who are you two gentlemen? I think I’ve see you at St. Matthew’s a few times,” she said, looking at Scotty. “That blond hair is hard to forget,” then turning to Ethan she said, “but I don’t believe I have seen you around here.”

“No ma’am, you haven’t. I’ve never been here before. My name is Ethan Taylor and the blond is my best friend Scotty McCarter. We’re kinda from Braggton.”

“Kinda from Braggton? Braggton’s not big enough to have a kinda,” she laughed.

“Well, we live about ten miles from Braggton on Arkadelphia Plantation.”

“I know it. Molly Edwards’ place, right?” Ethan nodded. “So this is your first time at St. Matthew’s? Stick to me and you’ll get through it,” she said, as they stepped into the church.

She led them to a pew three rows from the front and motioned to indicate this was her pew. Scotty turned, faced the front, bowed and walked into the pew. Miss Mattie did the same. Ethan just walked in and sat down. Scotty reached down and pulled out a cushion from under the pew in front of him and knelt on it. Miss Mattie sat on the edge of the pew and leaned her head against the back of the one in front of them. After a few minutes, both sat back in the pew.

The church was different from any Ethan has seen before. The first thing he noticed was Scotty’s bowing and kneeling. Now, as he looked around, he saw a number of people already in the pews and no-one was talking or if they had something to say to a neighbor, they whispered. The church where his family had gone before his mother died had people who arrived a while before the service started and used the time for catching up on the latest gossip. The person in charge hit a chord on the piano to get everyone to quiet down. Here everything was quiet. He liked that.

They had been sitting quietly for several minutes when an organ started playing. Ethan’s experience with organs had been at a funeral in a funeral home and so far as he knew all organs were alike. He was very surprised when the organ was nothing like he expected. The music was, well, joyful. Miss Mattie handed him a leaflet—he had seen a man at the back of the church hand her some papers when they came in—and pointed to ‘Prelude: Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 676 J. S. Bach.’ When the organ stopped, Ethan looked at his watch and saw it was a couple of minutes until 10:30. A white-headed man dressed in robes walked to the front of the congregation and welcomed everyone and announced some events coming up. When he finished, he walked down a side aisle and everything was quiet a few minutes, then a bell rang and everyone stood. Miss Mattie pointed again to the leaflet and handed him an opened hymnal. Ethan didn’t know the hymn, but enjoyed the music.

During the hymn a young man, Ethan guessed about his age, came down the aisle carrying a golden cross high over his head. He was followed by two young girls carrying candles. The procession continued with men and women dressed in robes. Finally a woman dressed in a different style robe came holding a gold book high. She was followed by two men also dressed in different robes. It was all very strange to Ethan. When they were all in place, Miss Mattie held a book for him and he saw that the man up front was reading a prayer! This got stranger all the time!

Between Miss Mattie and Scotty, Ethan kind of kept up with what was going on, but was glad when it came time for the sermon. He thought he had at least three quarters of an hour when he could just relax. He remembered enough about church to know now was the time to pay no attention to what was going on. The preacher was in the pulpit and said, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. Amen. Brothers and sisters, we are preparing a meal here, a meal that is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet and whom do we invite? Some among us would only invite those who are like us. Some would exclude those who are different. Increasingly those who labor in Georgia are Latino and some would treat them as we have treated African-Americans, as though they are inferior. Some would exclude our gay brothers and sisters ... What arrogance! This is not our table! Who is invited is not ours to decide. Who does Jesus say we should invite? The outcast, the different—can God be expected to do less?” The rest of the sermon, which was about twenty minutes long, continued in the same vein, emphasizing the necessity, the reality, that God’s table was open to everyone.

After the sermon. the service continued until people started moving forward for communion. Miss Mattie leaned toward Ethan and asked, “Have you been baptized?” Ethan nodded. “Fine, come with me.” An usher came to the end of the pew and Miss Mattie took Ethan’s arm as she stood. When they reached the end of the pew, she bowed and reached back and took Scotty’s arm as well. As they approached the altar rail, Miss Mattie did a little dance which resulted in Ethan standing by Scotty. Miss Mattie whispered to him, “Watch me.” Ethan did. He was, however, discombobulated when he saw everyone was drinking out of the same cup—well, from one or the other of two cups—and even more so when he took a sip expecting grape juice, not wine. The service was over very shortly after all had made their communion.

When the deacon dismissed the congregation, Miss Mattie turned to Ethan, laughed and said, “I hope you’re not totally shell-shocked. Those of us who have been Episcopalians for some time forget how strange we seem to most other folks except Roman Catholics. How would you gentlemen like to be my guests for lunch?”

“How about you being ours?” Ethan responded. “We have reservations at Lyle Plantation at 12:45.”

“I never turn down a chance to be seen with a handsome young man and certainly won’t turn down a chance to be seen with two!” When the three reached the back door, the preacher was greeting people. Miss Mattie shook his hand and said, “Father Mason, I’d like you to meet two new friends of mine. You may have seen Scotty McCarter here before. That blond hair is hard to miss. Mr. Ethan Taylor is here for the first time and may be a bit shell-shocked,” she chuckled.

“Ethan, I hope you’ll come again.”

“Well, I probably will. I sure liked the sermon—and it didn’t last an hour!”

“Perish the thought. Now don’t let Miss Mattie lead you too far astray.”

When they reached the older priest, Fr. Everett, Miss Mattie introduced the two guys who shook hands and then the three headed for the parking lot. As they approached the parking lot, Scotty suddenly stopped and said, “One of us is going to have to walk. I’m driving a two-seater.”

Miss Mattie opened her purse, took out a set of keys and tossed them to Ethan. “My car is the land yacht over there, the black Buick.”

“Follow me, Ethan,” Scotty said.

When they were seated at restaraunt, Miss Mattie said, “Okay, young men, tell me about yourselves. For starters, how old are you? Where are you going to school? Tell me about Arkadelphia Plantation. How did you end up here, Scotty, because you sure don’t sound like south Georgia. How long have you been lovers?” Ethan was drinking water which he sprayed across the table; Scotty dropped the bread basket he had just picked up. Miss Mattie guffawed. A waiter rushed over with napkins to mop up the water, took the bread, which had gotten soaked, and brought more.

When things were set right, Miss Mattie said, “I didn’t mean to upset the apple cart. I have a gay son who has been with his lover since they were seventeen. His father was ready to kill him when he caught him in bed with another boy doing what boys are not supposed to be doing. What he did was send him to a military school in Virginia, ‘That will make a man out of him,’ he said as we drove back after leaving him at the academy. As Christmas was approaching, Jonathan, our son, called from Virginia to ask if Arthur Quinn, his roommate could come home with him for the holidays. ‘He’s from Alaska and his mom thinks he shouldn’t come home.’ He had talked to his dad and Thomas, Mr. Franklin, told him we would be delighted to have him as a guest.

“When they arrived, Jonathan introduced us to Arthur. Jonathan was just seventeen, but was already six two—he ended up at six three—and built like a Mack truck. He wasn’t as blond as you are, Scotty, but he had a head of blond hair. Arthur was barely five seven, very slender—borderline skinny—with coal black hair and the dark skin to go with it. A sharper contrast is hard to imagine. Jonathan was all into sports and doing things with his hands; Arthur was a talented musician and played several instruments very well. He did beautiful watercolors. As I said, a sharper contrast is hard to imagine.

“I assumed they would share Jonathan’s bed and when I said so, Jonathan insisted I put Arthur in the guest room which was downstairs where the master bedroom was. I thought our son was just making sure we believed nothing was going on between them. However, by the time they were ready to return to the academy, I had noticed their glances at each other and decided there must be something more than friendship between them. When spring break rolled around, Jonathan came home alone and there was no mention of Arthur. Same with the summer. When I asked about Arthur, Jonathan said he was in Alaska, counselor at a music camp. The next year was Jonathan’s senior year. He, again called about Arthur coming home with him for Christmas. This time I was sure there was nothing more than friendship between them. Both got dates for the Christmas Ball at the country club, came home with lipstick on their shirts and there was pretty definite evidence of at least heavy petting in the underpants according to Hattie, the woman who did our laundry.

“Again, Jonathan came home alone at spring break. When he came home after graduation, he told us he had been accepted at the School of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. His dad had thought he’d go to Georgia Tech when he decided on engineering, but if he wanted to go to Carnegie Mellon, so be it. He only came home for a short time at Christmas and in mid-summer the next three years claiming had projects to do—which was, at least in part, true.

“Thomas dropped dead with a heart attack the summer after Jonathan finished his BS in engineering. When Jonathan came home for the funeral, Arthur was with him. Again, Arthur stayed in the guest room. The day after the funeral, Jonathan and I sat down to talk about the estate and what all had to be done. He finally said, ‘Mama, it looks like I am going to need to be here for awhile. I don’t have to go back until September when I start work on my Master’s. In that case, Arthur will be staying as well and, I hope it won’t upset you, but he will sharing my bed. We have been together since that first Christmas he came home with me. He has been at Carnegie Mellon too and we have lived together for the past four years.’ I told him I wasn’t surprised. I saw you two look at each other the way Jonathan and Arthur looked at each other. So now you know.”

After a delightful meal and conversation, Ethan and Scotty said goodbye to Miss Mattie—after Ethan promised her he would be back to St. Matthew’s.